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Kolkhorst endorses Sunset Review for TCEQ

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Kolkhorst endorses Sunset Review for TCEQ

April 10, 2019 - 00:00
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Leman doesn't favor

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AUSTIN--State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Bren-ham) believes it is time for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to be reviewed by the Texas Sunset Commission in the wake of the agency’s response to contamination in Skull Creek over the last two months.

“The TCEQ needs to be reviewed in the sunset process as soon as possible,” Kolkhorst said.

Sen. Judith Zaffarini (D-Laredo), Vice Chair of the Texas Senate’s Natural Resource and Economic Development Committee, the committee with oversight over TCEQ, told the Citizen in a written statement Monday that she, too, would support moving TCEQ in to the next Sunset cycle to help local governments get a handle on issues they are having with TCEQ.

State Rep. Ben Leman (R-Anderson) doesn’t favor putting TCEQ up for early review.

The Texas Sunset Commission periodically reviews state agencies to determine if there is a continuing need for the agency to exist. More importantly, Sunset Review typically results in recommendations to the Texas Legislature that will help make an agency function better and be more responsive to the public’s needs.

TCEQ was last subject to Sunset Review during the 2010-2011 cycle. The agency is next set for Sunset Review in 2022-2023. Agencies typically undergo review every 12 years. Between 20 and 30 state agencies are reviewed by Sunset each biennium.

Although agencies are typically scheduled for Sunset Review by statute, the Legislature, through the appropriations process, has the unique ability to force an agency in to a quicker review timeline.

For example, during debate on the state budget, formally called the General Appropriations Act, a member of the House or Senate could propose an amendment to the bill requiring that a condition of an agency’s continuing appropriation is that it be subject to immediate Sunset Review in the next review cycle.

Leman, who doesn’t support moving TCEQ up in the review process, said he didn’t believe such pressure would be effective on the agency local leaders have heavily criticized.

“I strongly support Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and all state agencies going through the Sunset process. However, trying to pull it forward to go through the Sunset process early may not be the most efficient and effective path to resolve these investigations,” Leman said.

“A sunset review for an agency like TCEQ typically takes up to eight months after which the recommendations will have to go through the Legislative process, regardless, and be passed during the next legislation session,” he said.

“I am confident that any concerns or matters raised or not addressed will be closely monitored by me and my office and would be better suited through legislation in the next Legislative Session, should it be needed,” he continued.

Additionally, the Citizen sought comment from Sens. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) concerning subjecting TCEQ to immediate Sunset Review. Birdwell is Chair of the Texas Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development. The committee has oversight over the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. His office did not respond to our request for comment prior ro press deadline